Talk About It Tuesday:
Leadership and Belonging

Guest: Surabhi Lal, Founder of SL Collaborative Adventures

MicroBio: Surabhi constantly asks herself; how do we make things better for individuals, systems, organizations and teams.

Where to find her: WEBSITE. LINKEDIN. (tune into her LIVE show: SIPS & Leadership)

Talk FAST (summary)

There is an enormous gap between what job seekers are looking for and what is being offered by employers. Leaders need to build their skills in new ways now, more than ever.

The Back-Story

Surabhi grew up as many of us do with the desire of wanting to belong and the reality of living in many different communities with a number of identities. Her early exposure to differences across the globe opened her eyes to inequities and infrastructure that touched her on a very personal level. This is the heart of what propelled her interest in public service and social impact.

Leadership Tips and Life Lessions

Boundaries: For Honoring Your Internal Compass

  • Ask yourself “how many voices are you going to let into your inside game?”

Overview on Feedback:

  • When done well, is a great way to build trust
  • It’s not personal (at least it shouldn’t be made to be). It’s behavioral and it’s really important to learn how to give feedback well as a leader. This is especially true because most people are very hard on themselves.
  • It’s important to ask for feedback, and if it’s difficult to get, ask specific questions such as “if we were to do this project again, what are one or two things that I might do differently”?
  • When dealing with bosses who are not asking for feedback, test the waters to see what’s possible to give them information about their leadership.

Tips for Giving Feedback:

  • Timely (not 6 months AFTER the fact)
  • Given when the receiver is truly available (ie; not in the hallway on the way to lunch)
  • Provided with curiosity and empathy (ie; get their take on things first)
  • Relay what you observed
  • Give people the space to truly reflect
  • See book recommendations below

Tips for Receiving Feedback:

  • Know how you receive it, and what your triggers are so that you can self-manage more effectively.
  • See book recommendations below

Servant Leadership: Ask your employees these questions

  • How can I support you?
  • Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?
  • What are some of the things you are noticing about the organization now that you’ve been here X years (or months)?
  • What are some things that we could do better as an organization?
  • You have to make the time to lead
  • Consider yourself a conductor of an orchestra, who is organizing all of the experts – as an example of why you don’t need to have all the answers – but rather leverage the superpowers of the collective.

When Employees Quit: Don’t make excuses

  • What could we have don’t differently to encourage them to stay?
  • Are we looking at the whole picture – such as structure or patterns with people leaving?
  • How can we help our employees grow, even if advancement is not an opportunity at the moment?

How can we make belonging a reality in the workplace: Have real conversations

  • Find out how your employee wants to be acknowledged – so that how you do it does not feel disingenuous to them.
  • Ask the employee what the non-negotiables are in their life – to really understand their values and priorities and then determine what can be co-created versus dictated as ways of working.

Hopefully one day we won’t need a Corporate Culture Revolution, but until then, there is work to do.


  • At the heart of belonging, we must first know that we belong within ourselves and then hold space for everyone else to be who they are in whatever spaces they show up in.  
  • Leaders have to make room to know that they are not perfect and won’t get everything right. We are in this moment of a hangover of this authoritative great man theory (I, as leader, have all the answers).
  • As AI solves more of the things that are computer solvable, we will have harder human problems, harder relationship problems.
  • Organizations need to make time for their managers to do the work of people management.
  • Surround yourself with people who are supportive – especially when you are doing things that buck the status quo.


The IG Live Conversation:



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